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Motorcycles and mopeds

Updated: 9 February 2015

We define motorcycles and mopeds as two- or three-wheel vehicles. While there are a number of similarities between these two types of vehicles, there are differences in the requirements for them - and their riders. The situation is complicated by the fact that there are some differences in the legal definitions of mopeds between the technical standards definitions (see vehicle classes), which are based on overseas standards, and the New Zealand registration and licensing requirements.

Here, you can learn what the differences are and how that affects the requirements you'll need to meet.

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What's the difference?

Here's how mopeds and motorcycles differ across a range of vehicle and driver requirements.

Mopeds Motorcycles
and licensing
Mopeds are defined as having two wheels and a maximum speed not exceeding 50 kilometres per hour;
and either
(a)an engine cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cc; or
(b)a power source other than a piston engine;
and includes
a three-wheeled vehicle with a power output of less than 2kW and a maximum design speed of 50 kph or under if registered prior to 1 May 2011.
Motorcycle means a motor vehicle running on two wheels, or not more than three wheels when fitted with a sidecar;
includes a vehicle with motorcycle controls that is approved as a motorcycle by the Agency;

does not include a moped.
Vehicle standards Under vehicle standards, mopeds must meet requirements of vehicle classes LA or LB. Under vehicle standards, motorcycles must meet the requirements of vehicle classes LC, LD or LE.
Entry certification
As of 1 July 2011, must be entry–certified when put on the road in New Zealand. Must be entry-certified when put on the road in New Zealand.
Warrant of fitness(WoF)
Aren't required to be regularly inspected for a WoF. Must be regularly inspected for a WoF.
Driver licence Riders can hold any New Zealand driver licence (eg car driver licence) to ride a moped. Riders must have a motorcycle driver licence to ride a motorcycle.


  • Both must be designed and constructed to meet vehicle standards for lighting, brakes and tyres.
  • They must both be registered and licensed before you can use them on the road.
  • You must securely fix and clearly display the registration plate at the rear of your vehicle.
  • You must wear an approved safety helmet.
  • You cannot ride motorcycles or mopeds on the footpath.
  • You can ride both along bus lanes and transit lanes - unless signs posted on the lane prohibit it.

Ensure your safety

  • It's illegal to register a motorcycle as a moped.
  • It's unsafe to drive a motorcycle without the proper driver training and driver licence.
  • It's illegal and unsafe to ride either type of vehicle without an approved helmet to protect you. We also recommend you wear other safety clothing, such as protective gloves and footwear.

See more tips on motorcycle safety. See also Ride Forever (external link), a one-stop shop for motorcyclists that includes advice on road awareness.

Learn more about mopeds and the requirements that apply.

Improve your riding skills